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Getting back to the heart of it all
Marcus Dripps

There are many things the APA does which are of great value to members. There was the recent announcement of an APA professional indemnity insurance offering (covered more in depth in this issue of InMotion). There are a range of activities around standards of professional practice, accreditation, career development, and safety and quality of healthcare which are truly amazing. There are the diverse advocacy activities we support which range from patient-centred local initiatives, jurisdictional lobbying in both the public and private sphere, and our national and international activities which depend on the contributions of many of our passionate members in conjunction with our highly professional staff team.

While these are often rightly seen as some of the most important things we do, there is a piece missing.

The one thing which is at the core of so many of our activities is bringing together physiotherapists with a common interest. Whether that is in terms of type of clinical practice (through our 14 national groups), practice setting (such as our network of emergency department physiotherapists), geography (through branch activities), professional role (educators or physiotherapists in leadership and management group), or research, it has been the basis of many of the APA’s historical activities.

For many years there has been a quiet revolution in how this ‘coming together’ occurs (a colleague recently described this to me as ‘a revolution that occurs in an evolutionary manner’). Originally all of the APA opportunities to bring physiotherapists together were quite literally that; face-to-face meetings of ‘groups/areas of clinical interest’ were the main method of communicating professional knowledge. These had some logistical limitations, particularly related to time, travel and expense. As things progressed, other forms of professional communication developed, including publications and professional journals. More recently, our web-based access to professional support has developed at a rapid pace. It is interesting to reflect that more than 10 per cent of Australian physiotherapists have viewed each of the last few free Member Value Webinars offered by the APA. This ability to reach such a large portion of our profession provides astounding possibilities in terms of knowledge dissemination.

Yet despite the progress of technology, the value of physically getting together has not diminished.

The upcoming APA National Conference should be the largest ever gathering of physiotherapists in the southern hemisphere. It is hard to believe that we are getting ready to embark on our fourth biennial Conference Week, as it has been a long journey to this point in our evolution. The first combined conference (Cairns in 2007) was a significant moment for the profession, as the different clinical streams had not previously co-located their conferences. Subsequent conferences have increased the integration of the different groups to allow all physiotherapists to access clinical presentations from across the different disciplines of physiotherapy practice.

The upcoming ‘New Moves’ Conference in Melbourne will continue this progression, with even greater integration of the clinical streams, and sharing of sessions and speakers around content that ‘bridges’ the gaps between different areas of practice.

I’m very excited about how the program has come together, and I look forward to seeing you there.

MARCUS DRIPPS, APAM
APA National President

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